International Tolerance Day – a global celebration

introductionReinhard Marx is an online colleague from Germany who is always at the cutting edge of using technology for global collaboration. We met through the Hello Little World Skypers Group. Last year, he looked for teachers/classes to be involved in judging a Flash Mob Dancing Spectacular, as part of International Tolerance Day. I readily agreed as it was held during my evening and any projects Reinhard helps organise are always great. A similar event took place this year on November 16th. There is something rather amazing to be down near the southern tip of the world, yet be so intimately part of a school spectacular in the northern hemisphere – a school that is in the middle of Asia – and in a country that I know little about – Kazakhstan which is in the heart of Central Asia.

dance1

The 13 global judges came from Germany, Sweden, Bangladesh, Hungary, USA, England, Greece, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Australia. Chills went down my spine, when the two student comperes acknowledged the judges, their countries and my name was read out over the youtube live streaming. These comperes were young, yet so professional. Judges were introduced using three different languages. 17 different dance groups performed often to a medley of music that included traditional, folk, hip hop, Asian, modern Western style. It was comforting to realise that these students loved similar music to what my students enjoy.  The dance routines were fabulous, kept an absolute secret from anyone involved and choreographed by the students themselves.

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The online tools used

  1. Skype: a skype group  – the “Shymkent Flash Mob Jury 2018″ – was formed for those educators who were interested in being part of the global judging – either solo or with a class. This gave us a valuable backchannel both before, during and after the actual event. Some teachers were new to the process and were able to work out what they should do and where they should be on the actual online google judging sheet. Begaim, the chief organiser of the event, was able to keep us up to date with which group was performing and translate for us when necessary.
  2. Youtube – for live streaming of the event with the live audience chatting in the backchannel of youtube – mostly in a language I could not understand.
  3. Google sheets – for judging each flash mob. Teachers were given an individual sheet with in the group sheet. Each flash mob had a number and a name. Voting took place for each dance group. The following categories were voted individually on a score out of 10 – dance energy, team spirit, musicality (all movements in the dance must correspond to the specific features of the music), dance synchrony, creativity and appearance.

my worksheet

What the  event looked like::-

  1. Testing of the youtube stream took place one hour prior to the event
  2. Skype group was used as a backchannel
  3. The two student comperes did a great job introducing the school and contestants, and introducing the global, virtual judges.
  4. Their national anthem was played
    national anthem
  5. The 17 different groups performed their flash mob dances (the whole process took approx 2.5 hours)
  6. As each group finished, the judges scores went up on the google sheet and were collated in real time.
  7. The winners were announced at the end
  8.  One large skype group call enabled all the judges and classes across the world to see each other and speak – an amazing finale (although my bandwidth was not stong)
skype call

The global judges meet at the end over a group Skype call

Kudos and hearty congratulations to the teachers and students of Kazakhstan for such an amazing event. Thanks to Reinhard and Begaim for pulling in some of the global network to be judges and part of it all. A great way to celebrate International Tolerance Day.

me on laptop

It was night time for me!

chat on youtube

Excerpt from the youtube chat on live streaming.

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Micro:bits

After experimenting with a number of robotics type devices, I have found that the Micro:bit is a great way to introduce coding and bring that coding to life.

The advantages:

  1. They are cheap – less than $30AUD for the micro:bit and lead
  2. Immediate and quick results for students of all ability levels
  3. Simple to connect to computer
  4. Great online resources and tutorials – simple, effective, user friendly
  5. Students were highly engaged and there were few problems in getting an outcome
  6. Reasonable robust for its size.
  7. Can be used on Windows devices and Apple technology
  8. there are a number of programming languages that can be used

Limitations

  1. Size – some students had difficulty in connecting the lead to the micro:bit
  2. Code needs to be downloaded, then dragged across and dropped into the micro:bit usb drive on a PC. Students soon got used to using the download folder though.
  3. Only uses .hex files
  4. Each time you write a new program, the old one is replace, you cannot store previous code

Where to start

  • Showed the following videos

    https://youtu.be/Wuza5WXiMkc
  • Explained how to connect the lead to the micro:bit and computer
  • Demonstrated the Flashing Heart tutorial from the Micro:bit Make Code website explaining they needed to sketch 2 different hearts (to give the impression of flashing)
  • Showed how to download the hex file>open in folder>drag and drop into the Micro:bit usb drive
  • Students then created their own flashing heart and downloaded the code to their micro:bit
  • They then worked through the other tutorials

 

 

Online resources and apps to engage students in accounting

comview banner

The title above is the topic that I will be presenting on at Comview 2018 This post is for the participants (and other interested parties) to access the links for the sessions.

Online document of resources.

Link for answergarden

@murcha on twitter

Link to presentation

 

 

AnswerGarden: Name some business expenses

Source: AnswerGarden: Name some business expenses

This post is to allow VCTA Comview participants the chance to answer and see the garden grow.

Skypeathon 2018

front picture slide

The annual Skypeathon gets bigger, better and more global each year. The dates for 2018 are Tuesday, November 13th and Wednesday 14th. The theme this year is “Open Hearts, Open Minds”.

I like the quote from this tweet from Microsoft in Education, Canada re “it is a live-learning marathon”.

The following tweet provides more details about the social goals for this year’s Skypeathon.

You can learn more by visiting the Skypeathon site Follow the steps to request mystery skype calls. There is an activity plan to organize your calls or digital passports, stickers  and posters etc to be had. If you follow the #skypeathon hashtag on twitter, there are opportunities for organic or unplanned connections with people who are looking for partners. However, for the miles to be recorded, please request a mystery skype call at the planned time.

Already planned Skype calls for my classes include the following countries

  • Argentina
  • USA (students are either sleeping over or staying back after school)
  • Philippines
  • India
  • Australia

Some of these involve live cultural or muscial performances, some are mystery skype calls and some are short sharing session. One is a connection with Microsoft manager talking about digital technology to my year 9/10 computer class. Are you going to be involved and if so, who will you connect with.

 

Breaking down Stereotypes with Mystery Skype

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I could hardly believe my eyes when I received a request from  a teacher, named Ben, in the USA to play Mystery Skype with his class as our time zones rarely match. The only way we can usually connect in real time with the US students.

So, I double checked that Ben had his time zone set correctly in his profile in Skype in the Classroom. He assured me that it was indeed 3:00pm Thursday was for him when it was 9am the next day (Friday) for me. And it was! This is what our connection looked like:-

  1. Ben and I quickly tested our connections before our classes came in, as this was his classes’ first mystery Skype call.
  2. Once connected, we tossed a coin to work out who would ask the first question. They said ‘heads’ and the coin fell to ‘tails’. We asked the first question “Are you north of the equator?”
  3. By a process of taking it in turns to ask each other a question that required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, one of my girls eventually asked if they were from the USA.

They said ‘yes’ but immediately one of the boys said “No, they are not. They are from India”.  The girls who had asked the questions were darker skinned and did not look typically like the US people that we see on our television of computer screens. The class was from Arizona, near the Mexican border so the girls were Mexican in appearance.

IMG_4021

The other thing that threw my students was that many of them did not speak English as their first language. Spanish was actually their first language. Again this was not what my students expected of US students. They thought that they would all speak English! Another lady also appeared on the screen towards the end, wearing a head scarf – something that my students were not expecting either. Many of us have clear ideas where we think people are from but videoconferencing tools like Skype break down the “stereotype” images that we have. We see people. We hear people. No longer do we read about them in our textbooks! The global stereotypes become challenged! Please remember that students in our rural school tend to be isolated culturally and geographically although we are getting some Asian dents from visa workers on the large corporate farms now.

Slide2

Ben’s class were well organised and had signs ready for “just a moment” whilst they worked out answers to questions or determined questions to ask. A great idea of theirs was showing a picture book with a page full of their native animals. This was an interesting way of sharing a collection of native animals with another class.

Slide6

Lessons learnt: The west coast of USA may actually be reachable and connectable ‘live’, whilst we are in daylight savings time.

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Towards Problem Free Global Collaboration!

connecting with japan voicethread

A recent question, for discussion, was put up on our ISTE Global PLN Connects Site, by April DeGenarro and it read like this

“As a preventative tool, I am trying to create a list of things that every global collaborating teacher should do to work towards a problem-free global collaboration experience.  This mostly applies to the teacher-initiated projects where one teacher arranges to work with another teacher(s). What are some of the things you ALWAYS check before and during your projects?

global connections
My responses to this were:-

  1. What is the time frame for the project? (Can it be completed during my school term and school year as we start our Australian school year at the end of Jan and finish in Dec.) Shorter projects are much better to start with.
  2. What tools will be used – synchronous (will it be in real time) or asynchronous (non real time)? eg We are asleep when most of the USA is at school and our school day starts when US schools are finished, so synchronous connections are tricky.
  3. How confident are the teachers with the tools? Are they user friendly and free?
  4. Does my school have access to the tools to be used? ie are they blocked.
  5. What devices can be used by students – can the tools be used cross platform and devices.
  6. Age group for the project? I teach secondary but find that my students have more confidence when they work with younger ones eg using flipgrid pals. Therefore, cross age projects can work.
  7. How frequently will teachers communicate as good communication ensures a successful and completed project?
  8. Time zone differences (always need to be measured in UTC or GMT). This is one of my greatest challenges
  9. Test the connections if videoconferencing is to be used prior to a direct linkup.
  10. What language will be used? Will the tools used allow translation options?

After the project: 

Reflect on the project:

  1. Write a a journal entry, preferably as a blog post (students should do this too)
  2. Share class reflections on a flipgrid and share with the connecting class. Both classes could contribute to the flipgrid.
  3. Promote the activity via twitter and facebook and/or other social media channels.

Maintain the teacher to teacher connections.

Seek further ongoing connections to continue the learning.

Although global connections may not be completely trouble free there are things we can do to make them as engaging and powerful as possible.